Nottingham Panthers crowned Elite League champions with 2-0 win over Coventry
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 03/04/16 7:16pm
Nottingham Panthers were crowned play-off champions for a record fifth time in the Elite League era as they beat holders Coventry Blaze 2-0 in the final at the National Ice Centre.
Stephen Schultz netted a first-period opener and then assisted on Kevin Quick's third-period marker, while goaltender Miika Wiikman posted a 30-save shut-out.
Blaze, attempting to become only the third team in EIHL history to successfully defend the trophy, lost leading point-scorer Brett Robinson to a wrist injury in the opening minutes as they failed to break Panthers down.
Canadian goalie Brian Stewart kept Blaze in the game with a number of sensational saves, but his heroics were ultimately in vain.
In a fast and furious opening 10 minutes, Panthers created the better chances, with Stewart in top form.
Stewart then made a stunning save to foil Evan Mosey on a breakaway, but he was finally beaten when Schultz picked up a loose puck before firing into the roof of the net at 14.53.
Blaze captain Ashley Tait, who netted the overtime winner in the 2005 final against Panthers which clinched the Grand Slam, was twice denied by Wiikman, who also foiled Mike Quesnele.
Clarke fired wide for Panthers when clean through early in the second period before they successfully killed three penalties in quick succession, with Wiikman standing strong.
Indeed, Stewart came to his side's rescue by saving short-handed breakaways from Brad Moran and Mosey.
Stewart made another stunning save from Juraj Kolnik, with Moran unable to convert the loose puck from the resulting scramble.
The Blaze goalie then produced an unbelievable stop to somehow keep out Mosey after another breakaway before Quick squeezed the puck past him at 53.07.
Wiikman made two fine stops late on from Russ Cowley to preserve his shut-out as Blaze were unable to reply.